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Rob Zombie – Hellbilly Deluxe 2 CD Album Review

15 March 2010 No Comment

By: A. Estes

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Rob Zombie Hellbilly Deluxe 2 Album CD Cover

Ladies and gentlemen, Rob Zombie is back. After dabbling in his film career with two stabs at the Michael Myers mythology in his “Halloween” flicks, the artist turned shock-rocker turned solo-artist turned director has now shifted his focus back to what he is best at: music. The painfully titled Hellbilly Deluxe 2: Noble Jackals, Penny Dreadfuls and the Systematic Dehumanization of Cool is his fourth solo album and first since 2006’s Educated Horses.

While it has little in common with the album it’s named after (other than, you know, it being a Rob Zombie record), Hellbilly Deluxe 2 finds Rob Zombie working for the first time with the band he created to tour around Educated Horses (after original bassist Blasko left to join Ozzy Osbourne). Together with drummer Tommy Clufetos, bassist Piggy D and perhaps one of the greatest rock guitarists still kicking, John 5, Rob sounds like he is playing with a real band for the first time since his White Zombie glory days. Most of the tracks are raw, like they were recorded live, which gives the album a life of its own and a distinction among Zombie’s other efforts. It also helps, too, that the band stay focused on creating compositions as interesting as the titles they are given (take “Mars Needs Women,” for example).

While most of the album fails to deliver the hits like the original Hellbilly Deluxe did oh-so-many years ago, it’s a more instantly gratifying experience than the decidedly more experimental and stripped down Educated Horses. Longtime fans will breathe a sigh of relief to know that Rob Zombie rocks and rocks hard through its eleven tracks. The opening track, “Jesus Frankenstein” features a meaty Helmet-esque riff before descending into a classic Rob Zombie chorus, while “Sick Bubblegum,” “Burn” and “What?” do well to update Rob’s own brand of danceable horror rock. The industrial-tinged “Death and Destiny Inside the Dream Factory” and the slide-guitar of “Werewolf Baby” call back to Rob’s days with White Zombie without sounding like retreads, but the nearly 10-minute long closing number, “The Man Who Laughs,” is what truly sets the album apart. Here, the band gets to show off, and with the help of film composer Tyler Bates, the whole thing sounds both epic and classy.

While it remains to be seen just why Rob decided to title the album the way he did, you can figure one of two things. Either this is just an attempt at cashing in on a more successful album (I mean, come on, who didn’t love the original Hellbilly Deluxe?) or perhaps this is Rob’s way of signifying that he is restarting his solo career, creating perhaps the solo album he would have recorded in 1998 had he aligned himself with these musicians at the time. Whatever it is though, Hellbilly Deluxe 2 is a real crowd pleaser. It sticks to what listeners expect from a Rob Zombie record, while successfully expanding on the sounds that worked. No doubt, it will take a few listens to properly adjust to, but Rob Zombie and his merry band of misfits have insured that there’s still some relevancy and creative juice left in the Zombie brand.

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